Our Director of Health Services says she has found her niche at Vanderheyden.
"I saw this job and it was non-profit, and it was with younger people," Mary Ellen Pace says. "I just knew it was going to be my niche."
Pace says after a tour and interviews at our campus, she knew it would be a great fit.
"It really just felt like home to me, because I really like working in the community where people are underserved," she says. "And there's a real need for my passion which is medical education."
"I wasn't here three weeks and knew I was back in the world that I loved to be in," Pace says.
After graduating from nursing school, the New Jersey native became a Level 1 ER Trauma Nurse at Albany Medical Center. From there, she became Director of Nursing at Whitney M Young, Jr Health Center, and moved to Redondo Beach, California, to take a position at a Providence hospital.
After moving back to the Capital Region, Pace worked as a Director of Nursing at a senior living facility in Guilderland, before taking the job at Vanderheyden in October.
"The staff that's here is really wonderful. My team members are amazing, they are such dedicated people," Pace says. "They have taught me so much about the history of Vanderheyden, and their dedication and knowledge is overwhelming."
"There is so much they can really tell me and it helps," she says. "It's definitely a team effort going forward."
Pace says she became a nurse because of her experiences with her Mother.
"My Mom was very, very sick, and I took care of her," she says. "It all could have been prevented if she would have taken care of herself."
"I just decided that I was going to make that my mission," Pace says. "I really love being a nurse. I was born to be a nurse."
As part of her Vanderheyden give-back, Pace has started a group called "Girl Power," which she says is an empowerment club for some of our Individuals who had hard situations to deal with in life.
"It's a place to talk about the hard things in a fun environment, a safe environment," she says. "It can't always be heavy."
Pace says she came up with the idea for the club from watching the girls. The first meeting in January turned into a serious health issues conversation.
"I gave them facts to every question they asked," she says.
The "Power Girl" members have received facials, and learned why this is beneficial. In the future, the girls will learn to do makeup applications and hair, pedicures, knit, crochet, and "fun stuff."
Pace also brings in fancy desserts for the girls, and will be the host of an old-fashioned tea party in the future.
"The world is theirs," Pace says. "They can choose it."
Since the initial group of 10 girls, the popular club is now up to 14 participants, and keeps growing.
"I don't know how big it's going to get," she says. "We may have to move out of the room we're using."
In her spare time, Pace, the mother of a son and a daughter, loves to shop for clothes and is an avid New York Mets fan. She also loves to walk with "Benny," her Brussels Griffon rescue dog from California.
"I'm just really, really happy to be here," Pace says. "Whatever the needs are, I'm willing to do what I can to meet the needs of the organization."